They say “It takes a village to raise a child”.
I don’t have a village….I don’t live anywhere near my village.
Shoot! I don’t even live in a place long enough to build my village. We’ve moved every year since my son was born.
Most days it feels like I parent alone. My husband is a wonderful co-parent, but he goes to work every day, leaving me alone with the kids.
It’s just me. ME.
I am not a village. But I need one.
Oh, do I need one.
Truthfully, I have days that are so lonely, and I yearn for contact from someone besides my kids. I want to hold a conversation with someone other than my husband.
I want a girlfriend to share a cup of coffee with. A girlfriend who would volunteer to take my kids for an afternoon so I can get my haircut. I girlfriend who could come rescue me when the poop hits the fan, and knows to bring a bottle of wine with her. Someone who can be my emergency contact on school enrollment forms.
And I need someone to take care of too! I want to matter to someone outside the four walls of my house!
Sometimes I just feel so small. So insignificant.
I rattle around in my house wiping noses, changing diapers, doing endless amounts of laundry and dishes. I play and entertain. I kiss away boo-boos. I’m a jungle gym, a soft lap, provider of food, and hugs. I know I matter here.
Is that enough? I don’t know. Some days it doesn’t feel like enough.
One of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Melton, has a mantra that she uses a lot – “WE Can Do Hard Things”.
Some days that phrase just pisses me off. I want to believe in that WE. But most days it just feels like ME. Alone…just ME. “I Can do Hard Things”, and I’ve had to do really hard things.
It makes me angry, a searing hurt.
One day a few months ago, I was speaking to my Mom about my hurt and my loneliness. She stopped me mid-sentence, looked me in the eye and said “Amanda….you are NOT small!” with such conviction that it startled me. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was stunned.
Those four words shook me to my core.
Those four words brought up every piece of loneliness and hurt in my heart. I had felt so disconnected and isolated for so long, how could I be anything but small…meaningless?
I sat there, and looked in her eyes. There she was, my MOM. I am not small to her.
Quietly I said, “I am not small”. I let the words sink in.
Again, I said “I am not small” a little louder this time.
Then I said it again….”I am NOT small”. This time I meant it, and knew it was true. And I cried.
It hit me…
I am BIG!
I am BIG to my kids who look to me for love and guidance. I am BIG to my husband who shares this messy, beautiful life with me.
I am BIG to my friends, who may not live close by, but whom I laugh with, and who I call when the poops hit the fan. Sure they can’t come over with that bottle of wine, but they can can make me laugh and encourage me to keep going.
I am BIG to my extended family. I am loved by each and every one of them, and to them I am not small.
I am NOT small.
One day I will find that village…
You know what…Scratch that….
I have a village. It may not look like the typical village, but it’s my village.
When I look past the small circle of myself and my family, I see them. My village. They may not be next door, in my neighborhood, city, or even state, but they are there.
I have friends I can call. I have friends I can chat with on facebook and share a glass of wine with on video chat. They are there…and they remind me every day, that….
I AM NOT SMALL!
I have found my WE…and they’ve been there all along.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!
Oh, I so hear you. Bless you for your bravery. Bless you for being big enough to handle all you do without a local tribe to give you the help and resources you (we all) need to make like work well. And bless your mom for her wisdom. Thank you for sharing.
Man, that conversation with my Mom was a life changer for sure. She is so wise and I am so blessed by her. Thank you for your sweet words. I will find my tribe…one day!
This is one of those pieces you read and it hits you like an iron skillet (in the best way of course). I can completely identify with everything you said here, sometimes you just want to feel significant again. Your comment about mattering to someone outside your four walls rung in my head like a bell. Our job is important – I know that and am so grateful for the opportunity to be home with my kids – but it is so easy to feel unappreciated or even unnoticed by the people you work for, i.e. the kids. Thank you for sharing this!
That. The blogged essay and this comment. There is no way to better sum up my feelings than just shutting up and nodding. 🙂 Love this. 🙂
You’re comment made me smile 🙂 So glad that you understand.
Yep, I cried when I wrote that sentence because it’s so true. Motherhood can be such a thankless job, but it’s the only job I’ve ever had where my whole heart is in it. I think that makes it hurt so much more. I’m glad that this post spoke to you. One thing I have discovered since starting this blog, is that we are NOT alone in our struggles.
Dayna@ Lemon lime adventures
What a beautiful piece! I know you have found your WE! You are NOT small! You are BIG and AMAZING! And you will do great things! LOVE!
Thank you Dayna 🙂 You are part of my WE, and I am thankful for you every day 🙂
Wow, Amanda, just wow! You are BIG to your readers. The direction your blog has taken has surprised me, in a good way. I admire your words.
Oh Heather, thank you! The new blog direction feels a lot better to me, I’m glad others are liking it too. This blog absolutely makes me feel less small.
CarryOnWarrior! Found you through our “Messy Beautiful” project! Fantastic post. To some degree I think many of us feel “alone,” especially those of us with sensitive souls, although the physical separation from moving is magnified in your situation. You are doing important work and making sacrifices for your family. Who knows? Maybe there’s a Monkee in your local area!
Thanks for your kind words Lorraine! I think you’re right, I think there is a bit of loneliness in all of us.
When we moved here, I knew I would have to put my big girl panties on and be the one to extend myself. I knew Icouldn’t go without a village long. It worked. I have plenty of village now, maybe too much. 🙂 It’s hard with littles. Didn’y you say your little guy would be in school soon. School is a lovely place to get a village. 🙂
What’s weird Hilary, is that I’ve always done pretty well at finding a village when I move. However, I’ve had a really hard time since our last move. I think that now that I have 2 kids (one being just a babe when we moved here), makes it that much harder. My older son starts preschool in the fall, and I’m praying I find a mom or two there that I connect with.
Can I tell you how many times I find myself in the middle of my living room screaming “Where is my village?!?!” Sometimes I hear that “it takes a village” saying repeating through my head over and over again when I just feel so trapped and invisible in here.
I have friends and family around. But still… it’s hard. Even with nearby support, most people work. It’s hard to go to the doctor with a million kids (okay three) hanging from my legs. It’s hard wanting someone to just talk with who doesn’t whine. Someone who will let me whine 🙂
That why I’m huge on Facebook. It reminds me there are others out there.
Thanks for your perspective. Being on the other side, without any local support, I forget that Moms who are local still don’t have support during the day. Your comment makes me want to reach out even more. Maybe I can find someone where we can trade off babysitting so we can get to the doctor. I am so bad about that. I will always find a way to take my kids, but I haven’t been in ages…it’s just too hard.
I’m also a big fan of facebook. It totally sucks me in though…that’s a whole different problem for me.
Oh I can SO relate!
I am lucky to have one or two awesome friends for support, but they do not live very close, and sometimes I still feel so small… especially at places like school pick up when it feels like everyone else knows everyone else, everyone has friends there… except me, and that makes me almost invisible…
It is a hard place to be, but we all need to keep on shouting that we are not small, that we are worthwhile, and important… and treat ourselves that way so others will too!
Oh school pick-up! My son goes to a Mother’s Day Out program, and it’s hard to talk to the other Moms because they are already talking to each other, and how to do you infiltrate that circle? It totally makes me feel invisible…
I am going to keep shouting that “I AM NOT SMALL” at least to myself. It’s actually written on several places in my house as a reminder.
You are not alone in the loneliness either. Oh the irony of mommyhood that eliminates your privacy but amplifies your isolation. Thank you for naming the pain AND speaking the hope in it’s face. Bless you. I’d bring that bottle of wine if I lived near you.
That is totally ironic, I had never thought of that before. Thank you for the wine offer, you made me smile 🙂
I just want to give you a hug. Is that weird? I don’t know you or where you live, but I want to be in your village and affirm to you that you are not small and those kids are so fortunate to have you, big, beautiful, loving you. Some days that sure is hard to remember, but I hope you’ll look back to these comments and know you’re not alone and you’re not small.
Thank you for your sweet words DeNae,and I’d take that big hug 🙂 I am blown away with the support I’ve received from this post. I am NOT small…none of us are. Thank you.
I’m not much is of a hugger, but you needed it. I’ve been in a funk lately. I told someone that I wasn’t alright But I will be. Just saying that helped a lot.
I connected to so much of what you wrote. You said it all beautifully. I didn’t know motherhood would be so isolating, but it just is, in such odd and unexpected and get-you-in-the-gut ways sometimes. I’m really glad you wrote this.
Oh, Amanda….you brought tears to my eyes! I had such a HARD day. This is Week 3 of us having our 11-month old granddaughter living with us for who-knows-how-long…and this old Gramma is NOT adjusting well. I’ve basically been an empty-nester for about 10 years, so this is HUGE for me. Sure, I remember HOW to do everything…but I never had all this other stuff on my plate while I was trying to do it. *giggle* God bless your Mama for reminding you how special you are, and God bless you for letting that sink in. I don’t even know you, and I know you are BIG!!! It’s rarely easy, but trust me…you CAN do this. WE can do this! Sending virtual hugs. 🙂
Oh Amanda. I don’t know how you feel. I have a village. Here. Erry day. And sometimes I still feel small. Sometimes I feel like a black sheep or an outcast. Sometimes I feel like having them is a crutch. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to move to Florida with my just me and my family, even just for a few years. I don’t know you, but you aren’t small to me. We can do hard things. We so can. HUGS!
THANK YOU for such an encouraging article. I also strongly believe that WE ARE BIG!!! Downside to this is the fact that we have to keep telling ourselves as many out there just simply don’t understand what it’s like to do what we as mothers do.
Love and everything else*Lotte (www.clarasconcept.com)
We are BIG!!! And yes, we need to remind ourselves every day that we are.
I don’t know how you do it – without your village. It is hard, mothering and parenting and doing it all is so hard even with a friend and a hug and a bottle of wine, I can’t imagine how hard it would be without. You are amazing for doing it, for making it through, and for sharing how hard it is. We don’t know each other but if we did, and if we lived close, I would watch your kids so you could get your hair cut!
Thank you so much Trisha! When you ask how I do it….I just do it. Many times Moms don’t have a choice, but to “just do it”. It’s not so bad all the time, but there are moments that are just rough, where I’d love to have a good friend lend a helping hand. I’m going to go check out your post now…looks good.
I feel you and I have those days when I feel so, so insignificant. 🙁
But this made me smile. Thank you, Amanda.
Glad I could make you smile 🙂
Holy Crow, that made me cry. Wow, that hit home. Oh My Gosh, that was intense.
Thanks for reminding me that I’m not the only one who has ever felt like this.
🙂 Nope not just you 🙂
I used to feel like that. But I had to remember what makes me happy. Then I had to figure out how to do what I wanted to do and include my children.
I just found your blog through Pinterest and I am so grateful to find someone experiencing a similar loneliness. I moved away from my comfort zone and village two and a half years ago. I was excited for the adventure at first, although I knew it was going to be really hard. The place I have moved to has felt like an impenetrable fort of locals. Whether they are too busy or not interested people here don’t seem interested in having or making friends. That is something I have never experienced before. It seems to me to be a crazy phenomena. Not even five minutes before I read your post, I thought to myself that what I have been feeling is lonely. My sweet husband works so many hours for a family business that I rarely see him, usually he gets home showers and goes to sleep. That definitely amplifies the lonely. Then to read your blog, I just cried. My thought was I wish I lived by her, we could help be eachother’s village. It seems I am not alone. Thank you for being vulnerable and for opening yourself up to everyone who reads your blog. That definitely makes you a very big person. The fact that you are home with your kids means you are an amazing super mom all by itself, it is huge!! I may partially be saying that because I too am a stay at home mom of 5 kids. Being a mom is crazy busy, but there is so much love and so many little things to be grateful for. I can’t imagine missing so many mommy moments if I wasn’t able to be home with my little lovies. Thank you for keeping it all in perspective.
Great post Amanda! I too am a SAHM of 2 boys and this feeling of being “small” is something I experienced as well and wrote about for my submission. You must know by now by the looks of all these comments that you are not alone! I know I never really tire of hearing that validation so there’s mine to add to it lol! Good luck in your blogging! I’ll happily follow!
You’re definitely not alone in feeling alone with no village. I, too, have moved every year since my son was born: Sacramento, to Ft. lauderdale, to Columbus, Ohio. My family and friends are in Los Angeles where I grew up – and my hysband’s friends and family are here in Columbus. My inlaws and I have a tepid relationship at best. It’s sad and stressful and lonely out there doing the toughest job in the world – molding a human – with little to no help. It’s a beautiful, joyful, miraculous gift of a burden to be a parent, but for those with a network of help and support – they’ll just never understand the depth of strength we hold in our hearts. We’re the lone warrior mommies. 🙂
Kristen @ Busy Kids Happy Mom
Let me encourage all of you lone moms to keep looking for your tribe. I too felt alone when my kids were little. I tried everything from music classes, Bible Study, YMCA, joined a gym, and work. My connection was found through MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) is a worldwide organization for moms of 0-5 year olds. This is where I found my true place, my happy home, my village. No one should do mothering alone…. the MOPS motto – Better Moms Make a Better World is the truth! This link will allow you to look for a group in your area: http://www.mops.org/groupsearch/
I thought I was the only one! How true are your words. I too live away from family and friends. It’s truly difficult to even find the time for a conversation, nevr mind a video link! I am working on my village as I hope we have found a place to stay nOw (3rd move in under 2 years) but once in your 30s it’s hard to make new friends, and it takes a long time! How long do you need to know someone before you can ask them for help? Before you can let them know how you really feel? I think 2 new affirmations have been born right here. “I am NOT small” “I am not alone” so happy I stumbled on this post!